Saturday, May 8, 2010

Betty White/Jay-Z - Thoughts

Post your thoughts on the show here after it's aired!
How amazing was tonight's episode? Did Betty White and the SNL alumnae bring their A-game? Did the current cast get a look-in with all the talented guests on the show? Favourite sketch? Worst sketch?
Best SNL of the season?

Comment, comment, comment!

Abby Elliott profiled in Death and Taxes Magazine

SNL starlet Abby Elliott is profiled in this month's Death & Taxes magazine which is accessible online here -
Abby's feature is on page 122!

Screencap of the day

Politico Gets Hands on Tonight's SNL Opener

Politico has gotten its hand on the purported transcript of tonight's opener, which would see Fred play Faisal Shahzad and Maya Rudolph play his interpreter.

FRED: Good afternoon. My name is Faisal Shahzad, and I am here today because I can no longer remain silent about the injustices I have suffered, and continue to suffer. Injustices at the hands of the United States government, which has unfairly accused me of crimes that I did not commit. And worse, injustices at the hands of the American news media, which has grossly invaded my privacy, and lied about me at every turn. They have written embarrassing and inaccurate stories about my home foreclosure. They have delved into the break-up of my marriage. And most hurtful of all, they have continued to describe the car bomb on which I worked so hard, in the cruelest terms imaginable.

“Crude.” “Primitive.” “Thirdrate.” “Rudimentary.” “Poorly constructed.” “Unsophisticated.” “Amateurish.” “Rough.” “Unrefined.” “Inexpert.” “Unprofessional.” “Obviously not well thought-out.” “Impractical.” “Illconceived.” “Woefully inadequate.” “Substandard.” “Inept.” “Unworkmanlike.” “Slapdash.” “Bungling.” “Childlike.” "Not even close to workable.” “Low-end.” “The kind of device you’d find in the sale bin at a Mexican KMart.” "Useless.” “Ineffective.” “An embarrassment.” “Reminiscent of a first grade science project.” “Worthless.” “Bargain basement.” “Bushleague.” “Bottom-of-thebarrel.” “Pathetic.” “Resembling word I had not seen before, but which apparently means, 'Causing, or being worthy of ridicule." “Just plain pitiful.” “An unmitigated disaster.” “Like something from a Road Runner cartoon.”

At this point, Maya Rudolph whispers, "I think we've covered this."

Fred Armisen goes on to say that, as a result of his tough week, "I no longer find pleasure in hobbies and interests I previously enjoyed, such as soccer, and bomb making."

"And for those in the press, who are so critical of my work, I have a question. How do you even know it was an explosive device? Maybe it was never intended to blow
up. Alright, fine, it was an explosive device. Happy now?"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Screencap of the Day

Betty White Promo with SNL Alumnae

Forte, Wiig & Thompson appearing on late night shows next week

So guys, the SNL cast are a busy bunch next week with Kristen Wiig, Kenan Thompson and Will Forte all making appearances on late night shows. Itinerary below -
Monday 5/10 - Kristen Wiig (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)
Tuesday 5/11 - Kenan Thompson (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)
                        Will Forte (Letterman)

Set your DVR's!
Also - Maya Rudolph appears on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight! Don't forget to tune in!

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Check out this interview with Rachel Dratch in which she speculates about some of what we can expect from Saturday's show. HINT - Golden Girls sketch a possibility! Returning characters from Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer also a possibility!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kristen Wiig Options Novel "Clown Girl"

From -
Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig is using her own money to option Clown Girl, the 2007 Monica Drake novel that Wiig will adapt into a feature script. She wants to play the heroine, Nita, a clown in crisis who works street fairs as Sniffles the Clown. Nita is barely surviving in her hometown of Baloneytown, pining for a dream man who used her to finance his attendance at clown college,. As a result, she struggles to live and tries to resist the potentially lucrative prostitution trade involving clown fetishists. The dark novel was published by Hawthorne Press in 2007 and the option deal is being handled by Inkwell Management.
Very cool move. Kristen Wiig is turning into quite the Renaissance woman!

Fred Armisen does Musical Impressions

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Check out this video of Fred Armisen trying his hand at various musical impressions during his recent visit to Yale.
I especially enjoy his Paul Simon impersonation.

Screencap of the day

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Who Wants MacGruber ringtones?

Check this out to get free MacGruber ringtones sent to your phone!

Screencap of the Day

Alec Baldwin/Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

You read that correctly. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are going to be the musical guests for the season finale of SNL. Interesting choice, that's all I'll say!

Betty White SNL Promo

Betty brings it!

Simon Rich talks about novel, "Elliot Allagash"

Simon Rich talks about his new book Elliot Allagash in, where else, Studio 8H. As if it weren't cool enough, there's a mini-interjection from Bill Hader.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Screencap of the Day

Alex Baze Interview

Hey guys, 
Here's my brief Q&A with Weekend Update head writer Alex Baze. Thanks again to Alex for taking the time to answer these questions! The answers are super-insightful and make for an interesting read!

How did you get your job at Saturday Night Live?

That’s a long story, but I’ll try to stick to the important parts.  After a year of teaching high school, I moved to Chicago to learn improv at Second City and ImprovOlympic.  Moved up the ladder, made my connections, learned the craft and so on.  Then, years later, I submitted a packet of sketches to SNL and got an interview.  Didn’t get the job that time, but they told me I could fax jokes to Weekend Update freelance.  100 bucks a joke if it gets on the air.  So I did that for several years until Tina Fey brought me in to interview for Update.  And that time I got the gig.

What/who are your writing/comedic influences?

Everybody.  Is that a good answer?  In seriousness, I devoured any comedy I could find when I was a kid, trying to figure out how they did it.  I really like Jerry Seinfeld for his ability to craft a joke and his respect for detail.  I’m less of a performer, so I tend to enjoy stuff that’s well written and has a point of view.  The stuff that Steven Colbert is doing now is genius. 

What is your personal process for writing Update jokes each week, and if you get writer's block, how do you deal with it?

Well, we get a worksheet with encapsulated news stories when we come in every day, so that gives us an idea of what we’re writing about.  As for my process, I like to just keep reading the stories over and over, looking for different angles.  I generally ask myself “what do I want to say about this story?”  Then, once I can answer that, the next question is “What’s the cleverest way to say that?”  And I don’t believe in writer’s block.  You may write well, you may write badly, but you can always write SOMETHING.  And usually, if you just put your head down and keep writing, you’ll find your groove.

Can you think of any recent event that was either very easy or difficult to write jokes about?

Well, we had to write about Goldman Sachs being charged with fraud by the SEC. And if you fell asleep reading that sentence, you know why it was hard.  The more you have to explain to the audience, the harder it is to find a joke in there.  You may have heard that comedians “say what the audience is thinking.”  With a story like that, the audience isn’t really thinking anything about it, because they don’t understand it.  On the other hand, something like the Sarah Palin saga is easier, because everyone knows a lot of detail about her. 

What is your favourite part about being a writer for the show?

The best part for me is working with the funniest people in the world every day.  I’ve learned so much more about comedy in the last six years than I did in the previous 37.  Yes, I’m very, very old.  Also, the health insurance is pretty stellar.

Pretty cool, huh? 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Screencap of the Day

"Show me X!"

Saturday Night Screens at Tribeca Film Fest

So, The New York Times was at last night's screening of the James Franco documentary Saturday Night at Tribeca Film Fest. They posted some stray observations on their Arts Beat Blog along with a few insider scoops from the Q&A with James Franco, Kenan Thompson, Jenny Slate and Will Forte which followed the screening. Here are some of the best -

Among the moments and observations that caught our eye:
  • Most of the “SNL” cast and writers seem to operate with at least some level of sleep deprivation, owing largely to the overnight Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning writing sessions. Seth Meyers, the head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor, says he has dreams in which he is writing skits for the show. Mr. Forte says he sleeps in his office in an “SNL” blanket he was given by his mother.
  • Doug Abeles, a “Weekend Update” writer and producer, says that when he is in need of topical inspiration, he sometimes glances out his window at the NBC news ticker on the studio across the street.
  • Among the sketches that did not make it to the broadcast was a bit in which Mr. Malkovich played a commercial singer forced to perform the Empire Today Carpet jingle over and over, and Mr. Forte played his slave driver of a director. It appeared that the skit played well at the table read, but it was cut after an unsuccessful dress rehearsal.

    Afterward, Mr. Forte, who wrote the sketch, said he had made his peace with this result. “It didn’t do horribly,” he said of the skit, “it just didn’t do as well as we had hoped. You get so used to that situation. Your heart gets broken on a regular basis. And you just have to forget about it and try to come up with something new. Every once in a while, you get a second chance with something. You can’t think about it.”
  • Casey Wilson is boldly candid about sharing her feelings when her Liza Minnelli impersonation skit bombs at the table read. “My experience was, I wanted to kill myself,” Ms. Wilson tells the camera. “I wanted to die.” Her contract was not renewed after the 2008-09 season.
  • Mr. Moynihan smokes. So does Mr. Franco. Bad Mr. Moynihan! Bad Mr. Franco!
  • As the producer Steve Higgins aptly says of “SNL,” “If you’re a perfectionist, don’t come here.”
Bonus factoids from the post-screening Q & A session:
  • Prospective “SNL” cast members are asked to perform a mix of original characters and celebrity impressions in their auditions. In his audition, Mr. Forte performed impersonations of Michael McDonald and Martin Sheen.
  • Ms. Slate’s audition included an impression of Annette Bening as a tour guide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • Mr. Thompson said the “SNL” host who most surprised him – and initially intimidated him – was Ludacris, who he said spent most of his sketch-pitch meeting on his two-way pager.
  • Asked if he was still working with Kel Mitchell, his former co-star from the Nickelodeon show “Kenan & Kel,” Mr. Thompson replied: “Uh, no. Next question.”

Simon Rich Novel to be released May 25

As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of SNL writer Simon Rich and his collections Ant Farm and Free Range Chickens. Well think of how excited I was when I learned that he has a new novel coming out on May 25 called Elliot Allagash. Here's the synopsis from the Random House website -

Seymour Herson is the least popular student at Glendale, a private school in Manhattan. He’s painfully shy, physically inept, and his new nick-name, “chunk style,” is in danger of entering common usage. But Seymour’s solitary existence comes to a swift end when he meets the new transfer student: Elliot Allagash, evil heir of America’s largest fortune.
Elliot’s rampant delinquency has already gotten him expelled from dozens of prep schools around the country. But despite his best efforts, he can’t get himself thrown out of Glendale; his father has simply donated too much money. Bitter and bored, Elliot decides to amuse himself by taking up a challenging and expensive new hobby: transforming Seymour into the most popular student in the school.

An unlikely friendship develops between the two loners as Elliot introduces Seymour to new concepts, like power, sabotage, and vengeance. With Elliot as his diabolical strategist and investor, Seymour scores a spot on the basketball team, becomes class president, and ruthlessly destroys his enemies. Yet despite the glow of newfound popularity, Seymour feels increasingly uneasy with Elliot’s wily designs. For an Allagash victory is dishonorable at its best, and ruinous at its worst.

Cunningly playful and wickedly funny,
 Elliot Allagash is a tale about all of the incredible things that money can buy, and the one or two things that it can’t.

Sounds good, huh? Pre-order it on Amazon and save $7.36 -

And if you are unfamiliar with Rich's hilarious works, familiarise yourself here with some pieces he wrote for the uber-prestigious publication The New Yorker (it published a short story by Gossip Girl character Dan Humphrey, how much more prestigious do you get?)"Simon%20Rich"

If you're reading this Random House or Simon Rich, I'll take a free copy off your hands, no problem!

Sunday, May 2, 2010